Slow and Steady

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Jan 19th, 2012)

Change is scary. Change is hard. Change is good.

Making a life change can be one of the most difficult things to try so why do I keep pushing it? Well, because it is the BEST way to lead a healthy life and prevent all kinds of disease. So this means we should all suffer through this difficult change to lead a better life? No. Absolutely not. No one would do it that way. Everyone deals with change in their own way. It’s like taking off a Band-Aid. Some people are the “rip it off” type and others are the “slowly pulling” type. So what does this mean for making life changes? You can try running into it full tilt but I recommend taking it little by little.

Exercise
If you are starting a new exercise regime and finding it difficult, break it down into little steps that you find manageable. Try adding cardio first as that will have the most dramatic effect and only start out with 5-10 minutes a day or even every three days. Then, when you are ready, steadily increase the amount of time and then the frequency. The same goes for weight lifting. Start light and with only a few exercises. Slowly add to your repertoire and increase the weights. This is also a great way to avoid injury when you are first starting out.

Diet
Changing your eating habits is one of the hardest changes to make for a lot of people. I have several steps that I recommend to patients to make it easier. First, change the quality of the food you eat. And if that is even too big a hurdle, you can break it down further and change it food by food. Change the vegetables first, then the meat, then the carbs.

Second, change the snacks you eat. Switch to healthy fruits and nuts and water rather than that coffee and carbs.

Portion control should be the LAST thing you change. Being hungry makes it extremely difficult to keep up good eating habits. So you need to get used to eating healthily and have a good grasp of what makes a good meal or snack before tackling overeating.

We need to think in terms of long term goals when making this effort. Take it one day at a time and don’t judge yourself after a month. Give it time and take a look at all you’ve accomplished in 3 or 4 months. You’ll be impressed.

I encourage everyone to take it slowly and pace yourself when making health changes. These are important decisions we’ve made. Let’s not abandon them just because of exhaustion.

Thanks for reading and good luck,
Dr. Ben

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